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Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc. records
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Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc. records

Accession 2185

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-02-21T10:57-0500

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives. A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc. records (Accession 2185), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc. records
Dates: 1855-1973
Accession Number: 2185
Creator: Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc.
Extent: 46 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Francis Bannerman (1820-1872) was a Brooklyn, N.Y., ship chandler who began selling Civil War military surplus as a side line. His son Francis (1851-1918) developed a three-generation dealership in military surplus and military antiques serving sportsmen and collectors. He also built a private arsenal on an island in the Hudson Highlands that is now a romantic ruin. The records document the firm’s buying of military gear and arms in the U.S. and Europe and advertising them for resale.
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Historical Note

Francis Bannerman Sons was a major purveyor of military and goods to sportsmen and collectors in New York City over three generations.

The firm was founded in October 1872 by Francis Bannerman (1851-1918) and his wife Nellie Boyce Bannerman as an offshoot of his family's ship chandlery and military salvage business located near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. His father, Francis Bannerman (1820-1872?) had first purchased military goods at scrap prices in the demobilization at the end of the Civil War. The younger Francis began by selling potatoes and apples in season, along with hardware purchased at government auctions. By 1880, he was selling mostly government surplus arms and military supplies. Around 1890, Bannerman acquired the Spencer Arms Company, manufacturers of a repeating shotgun. He moved his store to Manhattan in 1897, where it soon became noteworthy as a museum of modern and antique weaponry and military memorabilia. To store his vast quantities of arms and ammunition, Bannerman bought Pollepel Island in the Hudson River Highlands in 1900 and erected Bannerman's Island Arsenal and a summer residence, patterned after the castles of the family's native Scotland.

On January 1, 1917, Bannerman turned the business over to his sons Francis (1873-1945) and David (1875-1957) as the partnership of Francis Bannerman Sons. In 1958, David's son Charles S. Bannerman (1905-1976) incorporated the business and became president, but he was a relatively passive representative of the family interest, the day-to-day affairs being in the hands of career employees. The business was downsized and moved to Long Island the following year. Pollepel Island was sold the the state in 1967, but the buildings were gutted by fire in 1969.

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Scope and Content

The records of Francis Bannerman Sons, Inc. are typical of a small family business in their lack of formal structure. Basically, they document Bannerman's purchase of military goods from state and federal arsenals and their resale to individuals, with other regular purchases of arms and military antiques made on buying trips to Europe. General account books that would show the performance of the business as a whole are either missing or were never kept at all.

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Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Order Books, 1886-1954
143 volumes
Scope and Content
Consists of 118 volumes of order books containing daily sales records, with some gaps, from October 1886 to December 1954. There are an additional 25 volumes of outgoing letterpress books, with the most complete coverage between 1896 and 1904. Incoming letters, invoices and freight bills are arranged in both chronological and alphabetical series. They include numerous catalogs for state and federal auction sales of surplus military equipment and correspondence with other foreign and domestic arms dealers. There are separate files on the Spencer repeating shotgun and on sales of military uniforms, swords, and other gear to theatrical companies.
Volume
1 October 1886 - March 1888
Volume
2 January 1890 - December 1890
Volume
3 January 1898 - October 1898
Volume
4 January 1900 - December 1900
Volume
5 January 1901 - September 1901
Volume
6 September 1901 - December 1902
Volume
7 January 1903 - January 1904
Volume
8 February 1904 - December 1904
Volume
9 January 1905 - June 1906
Volume
10 June 1906 - December 1906
Volume
11 December 1906 - July 1907
Volume
12 August 1907 - January 1908
Volume
13 February 1908 - March 1908
Volume
14 April 1908 - May 1908
Volume
15 May 1908 - July 1908
Volume
16 July 1908 - August 1908
Volume
17 August 1908 - October 1908
Volume
18 October 1908 - December 1908
Volume
19 December 1908 - February 1909
Volume
20 February 1909 - March 1909
Volume
21 April 1909 - May 1909
Volume
22 May 1909 - July 1909
Volume
23 July 1909 - September 1909
Volume
24 September 1909 - December 1909
Volume
25 December 1909 - February 1910
Volume
26 March 1910 - May 1910
Volume
27 May 1910 - August 1910
Volume
28 August 1910 - November 1910
Volume
29 November 1910 - February 1911
Volume
30 February 1911 - April 1911
Volume
31 April 1911 - June 1911
Volume
32 January 1919 - April 1919
Volume
33 October 1924 - December 1924
Volume
34 January 1925 - April 1925
Volume
35 April 1925 - July 1925
Volume
36 July 1925 - October 1925
Volume
37 October 1925 - December 1925
Volume
38 January 1926 - April 1926
Volume
39 April 1926 - July 1926
Volume
40 July 1926 - October 1926
Volume
41 October 1926 - December 1926
Volume
42 January 1927 - March 1927
Volume
43 April 1927 - June 1927
Volume
44 June 1927 - September 1927
Volume
45 October 1927 - December 1927
Volume
46 December 1927 - March 1928
Volume
47 March 1928 - June 1928
Volume
48 June 1928 - September 1928
Volume
49 January 1929 - April 1929
Volume
50 April 1929 - July 1929
Volume
51 July 1929 - November 1929
Volume
52 November 1929 - February 1930
Volume
53 February 1930 - June 1930
Volume
54 June 1930 - September 1930
Volume
55 September 1930 - December 1930
Volume
56 January 1931 - Apri11931
Volume
57 April 1931 - July 1931
Volume
58 August 1931 - November 1931
Volume
59 November 1931 - February 1932
Volume
60 February 1932 - June 1932
Volume
61 June 1932 - September 1932
Volume
62 September 1932 - January 1933
Volume
63 January 1933 - May 1933
Volume
64 May 1933 - August 1933
Volume
65 August 1933 - December 1933
Volume
66 December 1933 - April 1934
Volume
67 April 1934 - August 1934
Volume
68 August 1934 - November 1934
Volume
69 December 1934 - March 1935
Volume
70 March 1935 - July 1935
Volume
71 July 1935 - November 1935
Volume
72 November 1935 - February 1936
Volume
73 February 1936 - June 1936
Volume
74 June 1936 - October 1936
Volume
75 October 1936 - January 1937
Volume
76 February 1937 - May 1937
Volume
77 May 1937 - September 1937
Volume
78 September 1937 - December 1937
Volume
79 January 1938 - April 1938
Volume
80 April 1938 - August 1938
Volume
81 September 1938 - January 1939
Volume
82 January 1939 - May 1939
Volume
83 June 1939"- October 1939
Volume
84 October 1939 - February 1940
Volume
85 February 1940 - May 1940
Volume
86 September 1940 - January 1941
Volume
87 January 1941 - April 1941
Volume
88 May 1941 - August 1941
Volume
89 August 1941 - December 1941
Volume
90 December 1941 - March 1942
Volume
91 March 1942 - July 1942
Volume
92 July 1942 - October 1942
Volume
93 October 1942 - January 1943
Volume
94 January 1943 - May 1943
Volume
95 May 1943 - August 1943
Volume
96 August 1943 - December 1943
Volume
97 December 1943 - March 1944
Volume
98 April 1944 - August 1944
Volume
99 August 1944 - January 1945
Volume
100 January 1945 - June 1945
Volume
101 June 1945 - December 1945
Volume
102 January 1946 - June 1946
Volume
103 June 1946 - December 1946
Volume
104 January 1947 - June 1947
Volume
105 July 1947 - January 1948
Volume
106 January 1948 - August 1948
Volume
107 September 1948 - March 1949
Volume
108 April 1949 - November 1949
Volume
109 November 1949 - May 1950
Volume
110 June 1950 - December 1950
Volume
111 January 1951 - June 1951
Volume
112 July 1951 - December 1951
Volume
113 January 1952 - June 1952
Volume
114 June 1952 - December 1952
Volume
115 December 1952 - May 1953
Volume
116 May 1953 - November 1953
Volume
117 December 1953 - May 1954
Volume
118 May 1954 - December 1954
II. Outbound letter books, 1898-1918
Volume
119 1882-1886
Volume
120 December 1896 - May 1897
Volume
121 May 1897 - October 1897
Volume
122 October 1897 - March 1898
Volume
123 March 1898 - August 1898
Volume
124 August 1898 - January 1899
Volume
125 January 1899 - July 1899
Volume
126 November 1901 - February 1902
Volume
127 February 1902 - April 1902
Volume
128 April 1902 - June 1902
Volume
129 June 1902 - August 1902
Volume
130 August 1902 - October 1902
Volume
131 October 1902 - December 1902
Volume
132 December 1902 - February 1903
Volume
133 February 1903 - April 1903
Volume
134 Apri1 1903 - June 1903
Volume
135 June 1903 - July 1903
Volume
136 July 1903 - September 1903
Volume
137 September 1903 - November 1903
Volume
138 October 1903 - December 1903
Volume
139 December 1903 - January 1904
Volume
140 January 1904 - March 1904
Volume
141 March 1904 - May 1904
Volume
142 May 1904 - June 1904
Volume
143 1914-1918
III. Chronological File, 1870-1950
Box
1 1870s-1898
Box
2 1899-1900
Box
3 1900-1901
Box
4 1901-1903
Box
5 1905-1911
Box
6 1912-1921, 1950s
IV. Alphabetical File, 1880-1950
Box
7 A, 1898-99, 1904
Box
7 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). Augusta, 1904
Box
7 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). Benicia, 1901
Box
7 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). Catalogs
Box
8 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). Catalogs
Box
8 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). General
Box
9 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). General
Box
9 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). Mare Island
Box
9 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). Rock Island
Box
9 Armory Sales. Federal (Army & Navy). San Antonio
Box
9 Armory Sales. State
Box
10 Armory Sales. State
Box
10 Arms Offered to Bannerman
Box
10 B, 1899-1902
Box
11 B, 1902-1904
Box
11 Bannerman, W.J., 1883 (Ship Chandler of NY)
Box
12 Bannerman letterhead and bill samples
Box
12 Boats
Box
12 C, 1903
Box
12 Coxford, William F.
Box
12 Cuban Sales, 1898-99
Box
12 D, 1898-1903
Box
12 Dealers in Antiquities and Curiosities
Box
12 Dresse Laloux & Co. (Liege)
Box
12 E, 1899-1902
Box
12 E/F, 1903
Box
13 Employees
Box
13 Exhibitions
Box
13 Foreign Governments
Box
13 Frazier, J.W.
Box
13 Goldstein, Isidor, 1903
Box
13 Graham, C.W.
Box
13 H, 1899-1903
Box
14 H, 1904
Box
14 I/J, 1899-1902
Box
14 K, 1898-1899
Box
14 Kirk, W. Stokes, 1898-1900 (Phila. arms dealer)
Box
14 M, 1898
Box
15 M, 1899-1904
Box
15 Magnus, Moritz, Jr. (German arms dealer), 1898-99
Box
15 Miscellaneous
Box
15 O, 1898-99
Box
15 O/P,1903
Box
16 R, 1901
Box
16 Read, William & Sons (Boston arms dealer)
Box
16 S, 1899-1902
Box
17 S, 1902-04
Volume
144 Spencer Shotgun - Registry book for prize
Box
18 Spencer Arms Company (repeating shotguns)
Box
18 Suppliers of Enhancing Services
Box
18 Suppliers, Foreign, 1920s-1940s
Box
19 Suppliers, Foreign, 1950s
Box
19 T, 1895-99
Box
19 T/U, 1903-04
Box
19 Theatrical
Box
19 Uniform Puchases, 1904
Box
19 U.S. Ordnance Dept., 1915
Box
19 White, H.K.
Box
19 V/Z, 1902-04
V. Shipping and Order Directions, 1903-1906
Box
20 1903, 1906
VI. Miscellaneous Accounts, 1870-1919
Scope and Content
Includes accounts with arms suppliers, expense records and the storage location of Bannerman's merchandise. A separate account book for Bannerman's accounts with Magnus Moritz, Jr., a Hamburg arms dealer, contains catalogs of the Gardner Gun Company. There are also household accounts and accounts from the potato business that Bannerman ran during the 1870s.
Box
21 Account Book, 1897
Box
21 Account Book and Correspondence - Magnus Moritz, Jr., Hamburg, Germany arms dealer (includes catalogs of the Gardner Gun Company, London)
Box
21 Accounts with Reed & Auerbach Co., 1905-1909
Box
21 Daily Sales, 1902
Box
21 Expense Book, 1919
Box
21 Household Purchases and Sales, 1870-1876
Box
21 Merchandise Location
Box
21 Potato Sales, 1872-1875 (2 vols.)
Box
21 Order Book, 1906
Volume
145 Merchandise Location
Box
22 Sales Daybook, 1896-1897
VII. Checks and check registers, 1890-1938
Box
22 Cancelled Checks - Corn Exchange Bank
Box
22 Cancelled Checks - Pacific Bank
Box
22 Check Registers, 1890-1938 (3 vols.)
Box
22 Check Registers - Corn Exchange Bank, 1902-1905 (4 vols.)
Box
22 Check Registers - Pacific Bank, 1912-1914
Box
22 Deposit Books - Corn Exchange Bank, 1921-1924 (3 vols.)
VIII. Miscellaneous Subject Files & Reports, 1884-1973
Scope and Content
Includes auction schedules for armory sales, scattered financial statements, and insurance records. There are legal papers concerning several lawsuits in which Bannerman was involved, including a dispute with the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a contractual dispute with the Remington Arms Company, and a negligence suit brought against Bannerman on behalf of a child who was injured while playing with explosives in a lot adjoining one of Bannerman's warehouses. There are also records of a suit growing out of the Navy's unauthorized seizure of Bannerman's Island at the start of World War I. The file includes correspondence with his counsel, Charles Evans Hughes, and with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. A scrapbook of photographs and sketches shows how Bannerman incorporated details from a variety of buildings seen in pictures or on his European travels into the design of his island arsenal.
There are pocket diaries and memorabilia from a number of Bannerman's foreign business trips. The file on a 1904 trip to the Orient includes menus and cards from the Pacific Mail steamer CHINA, a Japanese railway guide, Methodist missionary literature from China and cards from various hotels enroute. A collection of Chinese and Japanese postcards has been transferred to Pictorial Collections.
Box
23 Auction Schedules for Federal Armory Sales, 1899-1910
Box
23 Financial Statements, 1883-1885
Box
23 Financial Miscellany (includes statements and several minutes of Craiginch Corporation)
Box
23 Insurance
Box
23 Legal Papers. Claim - Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1884
Box
23 Legal Papers. 1918 Controversy (U.S. Navy's seizure of Pollepel Island, April 1, 1918)
Box
23 Legal Papers. Remington Dispute, 1917
Box
23 Legal Papers. Travell v. Bannerman, 1903 (child injured by discarded gunpowder)
Box
23 Miscellaneous Notes and Orders
Box
23 Pocket Diary, 1887
Volume
146 Pollepel Island Scrapbook, primarily sketches of castles
Box
23 Pollepel Island Scrapbook - loose material removed from volume
Box
23 Real Estate. 14 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Box
23 Real Estate. 43 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Box
23 Real Estate. 1570-1572 Bergen Street, Brooklyn
Box
24 Real Estate. 118 Broad Street, New York
Box
24 Real Estate. 579 Broadway, New York
Box
24 Real Estate. 1114 Butler Street, Brooklyn (residence)
Box
24 Real Estate. Erie Basin, Brooklyn
Box
24 Real Estate. 27 Front Street, Brooklyn
Box
24 Real Estate. General
Box
24 Real Estate. Hotel Margaret, Brooklyn (includes book of regulations)
Box
24 Real Estate. Little Street, Brooklyn
Box
24 Real Estate. Manhattan Real Estate
Box
24 Real Estate. Pollepel (Bannerman's) Island (includes. The Story of Bannerman's Island, 2nd ed. with note by Charles S. Bannerman, 1973, 52 pp.)
Box
24 Real Estate. Sale of Business
Box
24 Real Estate. Sketches
Box
24 Travel. England - Diary, 1911
Box
24 Travel. England - Diary, 1912
Box
24 Travel. England, 1915-1916
Box
24 Travel. European Trip, 1900
Box
24 Travel. European Trip, 1903
Box
24 Travel. European Trip - Notebook
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. Menus and cards for SS China of Pacific Mail SS Co.
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. Menu from Astor House Hotel, Shanghai
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. Brochure for Palace Hotel, San Francisco
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. Brochure for The Raymond, Pasadena
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. "Tedzuka's Railway and Steamship Guide" for Japan, November 1904
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. Card for Alexander Young Hotel, Honolulu
Box
25 Travel. Japan and China, 1904. Vol. VIT, No. 1 of the West China Messenger (Methodist Episcopal Church), 1908
IX. Trade Catalogs and Publications, 1885-1966
Scope and Content
Includes a good selection of Bannerman's catalogs from 1904 to 1966, the last containing a history of the business and biography of Bannerman. The non-Bannerman catalogs represent both suppliers and rival dealers in military goods, saddlery, flags, and lodge regalia. There are also tear sheets of articles by and about Bannerman and his business.
Box
25 Bannerman Catalogs, 1904, 1910, 1925, 1927, 1931, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1943, 1945, 1955, 1966 (100th Anniversary Edition, includes company history)
Box
25 Bannerman Catalog Fragments
Box
25 Bannerman Catalog Preparation. Advertising
Box
25 Bannerman Catalog Preparation. Printing and Engraving
Box
25 Bannerman Catalog Preparation. Typesheets and Circulars, 1937-1940
Box
26 Miscellaneous. Catalog and Circular Sales Sheets, 1924-1928, 1932-1937, 1944
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. Fencing Gear - Souzy & de Lecam (Paris)
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. Flags - Annen & Co. (New York)
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. Flags - Italo-American Flag Co. (New York)
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. "How to Incorporate Your Business" (Arizona & New York)
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. Medals, Antiques & Curios
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. Military Goods - Miscellaneous
Box
26 Non-Bannerman Catalogs. Military Goods - N.S. Meyer, Inc. (New York)
Box
26 Regalia. Order of Eastern Star
Box
26 Regalia. Knights of Pythias
Box
26 Saddlery. The Buckeye Saddlery Co. (Columbus, Ohio)
Box
26 Saddlery. The Mehlbach Saddle Co. (New York)
Box
26 Sporting Goods. H.&D. Folsom Arms Co. (New York)
Box
26 Sporting Goods. J.N. Lav & Co. (New York)
Box
26 Sporting Goods. Klein's Sporting Goods (Chicago)
Box
26 Sporting Goods. Miscellaneous
Box
26 Sporting Goods. Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Chicago)
Box
26 Sporting Goods. Ernst Steigleder (Berlin)
Box
26 Sporting Goods. Von Lengerke & Antoine (Chicago)
Box
26 Publications. Ancient and Modern Methods of Arrow Release, Edward S. Morse, 1885 (Essex Institute)
Box
26 Publications. Articles About Bannerman
Box
26 Publications. Journal of the Royal Service Institute, Feb. 1891
Box
26 Publications. The Philatelic West and Collector's World, 1911-1912
Box
26 Publications. Tear Sheets and News clippings
X. Family Miscellany, 1855-1922
Scope and Content
Includes family bibles, religious tracts, and Sunday school texts reflecting the Bannermans' deeply ingrained Scotch Presbyterianism​. There are also several mid-19th century school books and school copy books used by members of the Bannerman and Boyce families.
Box
27 Francis Bannerman, two Bibles
Box
27 "An Earnest Invitation to Sinners to Turn to God,"
Box
27 The Life of the Rev. John Newton, Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, an authentic narrative written by himself, The Religious Tract Society, London
Box
27 The Westminster Graded Lessons International Course Modified, Intennediate Series, Second Year, Part m, Pupil's Textbook - Leadership for God, prepared by E. Morris Ferguson (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath School Work,1914)
Box
27 Ellen Boyce - School Copy Books
Box
27 Sanders' Union Reader. Number One, for Primary Schools and Families, Charles W. Sanders, A.M. (New York: lvison, Blakeman, Taylor & Co., 1861)
Box
27 The School Reader. Fifth Book, designed as a sequel to Sanders' Fourth Reader, by Charles W. Sanders, A.M. and Joshua C. Sanders (New York: lvison & Phinney, 1855) - autograph of Frank Bannerman
Box
27 The First Six and Eleventh and Twelfth Books of Euclid's Elements with Elements of Plane Trigonometry and an Appendix in Four Books, by James Thomson, U.D.. Part First (Belfast: Simmons and M'Intyre, 1869) - autograph of Henry Boyce
Box
27 David Boyce Bannerman - Notebook
Box
27 Notebook - Newspaper Clippings/Auction Proceedings